15 minutes on a Siem Reap street corner

I first took the camera out to capture this sign. It’s a Cambodian Seven 11 Except its a six 11, and its actually open 24 hrs a day.

And then, like Dr Seuss’s Mulberry street, a whole lot of things rode past.

Family on a bike, one child 

You can stand up!







Or lie down

Here’s one with two! Bonus points for looking a bit like Nemo. Any raise on two?








Oh yes, we have three kids on a bike. And they are all in their pyjamas.


Ok, so we could win this one with five children.  But, like mums out doing each other telling birth trauma stories, this is not a competition I want to win. It’s just so dangerous.

This is the first Cambodian child I have seen in Cambodia wearing a helmet on a motorbike. And we’ve been here two weeks.

These are everywhere. Air conditioned vans that can take you from hotel to temples to restaurant and back to the hotel. You never need to step into the street at all, you probably don’t need to handle local currency, and you certainly don’t get to stand on street corners for 15 minutes while your husband tries to book bus tickets.

This is why we are here, Chris is in this office booking our tickets to Battambang. $6 for a 3 hrs bus trip. ( We’ve been warned ‘Do Not Take The Boat’. Apparently it takes 14r hrs in this dry season and gets stuck a lot.

To my left, a little road side shop. Over the road there’s another one selling pretty much the same stuff.

Above me? A spaghetti bowl of electrical and phone wiring. Electricity is very expensive here in Siem Reap; seven times the price as Australia, I’m told. Shops and restaurants don’t often have fridges, they use big ice boxes, and ice is delivered daily and they can cut off how much they need with a big saw. We’ve also seen a man charging up about 50 car batteries in his front yard, I suppose all the neighbours pick them up a it gets dark to run a light or two at home.

Below me are dust and rubbish. Many of the roads in Siem Reap are not bitumenised. And there is rubbish everywhere.

Sparky sits beside me, she is quiet, but soaking in the sounds.

In front of me is Tintin. Look at the black rings under his eyes. Not only is he tired, but we’ve eaten some bad additive laden stuff here. The street food is no where near as delicious or safe as in Thailand. The restaurants are expensive, western food no more so that the Khmer food, which we’ve found bland and very high in onion. Our  do-it-yourself meals are processed bread, coloured, flavoured jam and warm fruit.  Yummo.

Across the other road is Lucky Mall, a new addition to Cambodia, we will be going in there soon, as we really feel the need to buy muesli and milk for breakfast, bread and cheese for dinner ( we had no joy with the cheese).


Here’s a tall guy on a bike built for the Asian build. He looks about as comfortable as Chris in an Air Asia standard seat, or after he’s banged his head yet again going through a doorway.

These guys made me laugh, they obviously hired bikes at $1 a day to visit the temples of Angkor, and were too tuckered out to ride back.  Cycling home after sunset would be hair-raising, what with no street lights and heaps of potholes.

This lady selling eggs walked past me. She’s carrying a fire in a basket, and boiling them, as she walks.

These guys are motorbike taxi drivers. In 20 minutes they got no business. They yell at all the tourists. “Hello, hello!” and beckon them over. Why don’t they say ‘motorbike taxi’ or ‘do you need a ride?’

“Hello, hello” is what everyone yells, stall holders, tuk tuk drivers, hotel touts, tour recruiters. No wonder they get dismissed.

I have felt pity for the icecream sellers who wheel the streets with their orange tubs ringing their bells and rarely making a sale. Surely a sign saying ‘Try our traditional Khmer icecream, only 1000 Riel‘ would speak to tourists?  Unless someone tells you, you wouldn’t even know it was ice-cream.

In Chiang Mai we often frequented a street hawker who had a menu in English, with photos. The stall next door had exactly the same food, but the menu was in Thai only, and there were no photos. Guess who had all the business?

I digress.

What’s this? The egg delivery man!


And I would make a joke that this guy lucked out and had to borrow his wife’s pink bike. Although maybe pink is not a ‘girl colour’ here. Meena can wear a pink t-shirt and a floral skirt and still be mistaken for a boy, all because of the short hair.

He are some teenagers all dressed up, check out the heels!

Some back seat driving going on here. ‘This way’, ‘no, I wanna go that way!’


Aaah. Chris arrived with the tickets.

Thanks for helping me pass the time!

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9 Responses to 15 minutes on a Siem Reap street corner

  1. Bron May 28, 2012 at 5:31 pm #

    I love these snap shots x seems like yesterday that i sat and watched the world go by. I was always amazed watching families on their motorbikes and remember seeing a family with a young child with iv bag being held up by the mum on the back as they obviously came from hospital to home or clinic to somehwere safe hopefully x enjoy BB we only made it there for half a night when coop got sick x
    Bron recently posted..Bike ridingMy Profile

  2. Kath from amuc days May 28, 2012 at 5:58 pm #

    Hey Gill & Chris, loved this post, & all your others. Reminds me of when we were in Cambodia with our 11mth old. We too ended up at the mall for supplies. Also wouldve given the guys with bikes on tuktuk a run for money. think tuk tuk from airport with packs baby & pram. so love reading this blog xxx

  3. Lynn May 29, 2012 at 2:08 am #

    Is it already/still dry season? The boat is so worthwhile; it was a very very very long trip, on very very very hard seats, but it was spectacular when we did it, in January.
    Whatever: Battambang is a treat. Do try to visit Phare Ponleu Selpak, it was a highlight, along with the Bamboo Railway. Oh, you are so lucky to be there! :-)
    Lynn recently posted..same old riceMy Profile

    • Jill May 30, 2012 at 12:20 pm #

      Hi Lynn
      When we saw the river, it was too shallow in lots of places, but I can imagine the trip would be great at the right time!

  4. Amy @worldschooladventures May 30, 2012 at 2:13 am #

    I loved this post! Oh the sights and sounds of Asia. What a wild ride!
    Amy @worldschooladventures recently posted..The Best Of Both WorldsMy Profile

  5. Heidi @GreatFamilyEscape June 2, 2012 at 9:06 am #

    All that in 15 minutes?! Now that’s entertainment. Good for you, taking a look around while you waited. You probably experienced as much culture in these few minutes than an entire day of rushing around from tourist site to tourist site.
    Heidi @GreatFamilyEscape recently posted..Why Would Anyone Want To Travel Forever?My Profile

    • Jill June 2, 2012 at 10:25 am #

      I know!! At home, all I’d see is a couple of cars with tinted windows!

  6. Jennifer Pearce June 4, 2012 at 10:26 am #

    Such a fun post. I think that’s one of my favorite things about traveling, seeing all the simple, everyday things I would never see at home and didn’t even realize existed.

  7. Kara June 8, 2012 at 8:38 am #

    So fun! I love it.
    Kara recently posted..Our son is FOUR!My Profile

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